5 simple ways to fight back-to-school germs

My daughter starts school this week and I’m already stocking up on the Kleenex. Kids seem to become walking petri dishes for germs the moment they step inside the classroom, not to mention flu season will be here before we know it. So what’s a paranoid parent to do? Put down the Lysol and follow our tips for keeping sickness away this fall.

Keep hands washed and away from faces.

Yes, it’s common sense, but even the best parents forget to have their children wash their hands from time to time. Not only should kids wash after going to the bathroom and before meals, but a good scrub after returning home from school or anywhere in public will help keep germ exposure down. Make sure kids are washing for 15-20 seconds with warm water and plenty of soap. It’s also good to keep an alcohol-based hand sanitizer in your purse or car for when you’re on the go.

Despite our best efforts, we can’t always count on little hands staying perfectly clean. That’s why the CDC says it’s important to teach your kids to keep their fingers away from their noses, eyes and mouths, where germs can easily enter their bodies.

Disinfect supplies.

Keeping hands clean is obvious, but don’t neglect other bacteria havens, like backpacks and school supplies. Remember to periodically clean out book bags and lunch boxes and wipe down pens, pencils and other utensils. It’s also not a bad idea to rotate supplies after a few months of use.

Emphasize germ etiquette at school.

We all know someone who has no issues with coughing and sneezing all over the workplace. Teach your kids to not be that person. Let’s say that your little one does come down with a virus, but isn’t sick enough to stay home. Remind them to cough into the crook of their arm, not their hands, and keep tissue at the ready.

Depending on their age, children may be tempted to share items like food, drinks or lip gloss. Make it clear to them that while sharing toys is nice, sharing things that touch your mouth is a no-no.

Try natural preventatives.

Many people swear by elderberry syrup for staying healthy. According to Pharmacy Times, elderberries contain a protein that helps prevent infection. Many doctors even believe in the power of elderberry, but the jury is still out on how effective it is. The syrup is generally safe to consume, but always consult your doctor before using a home remedy.

If you’re an essential oil user, now is the time of year to diffuse like crazy. (And if the oils don’t prevent sickness, at least your home will smell nice, right?). Many oils can also act as a natural antibiotic, so spraying a little lavender, tea tree and lemon mixed with rubbing alcohol or vinegar will help keep surfaces clean and germ-free.

Get a flu shot.

Experts agree that a flu shot is the most effective way to prevent the nasty flu bug from hitting your home. Kids ages six months and up can receive the vaccine and the CDC says the shot is both safe and effective for pregnant women as well. Since it takes about two weeks for your body to develop flu antibodies, the CDC recommends getting the shot by the end of October so you’re ready for the winter.

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